Infographics are all the rage these days. (There’s even an infographic to explain the phenomenon.) It makes sense. After all, we’re a visual species. Since our earliest days, images have captured our attention. They have been at the heart of storytelling, one of our first methods of expression and a fundamental tool for education. Infographics, which are more detailed than photos and convey information more quickly than videos, tap into this visual learning style. They can prove especially powerful in press releases by extending the core message and highlighting the important components to bring the text to life. Plus, they’re inviting. According to an analysis of press releases by PR Newswire, the inclusion of multimedia assets significantly improves the number of views a message generates. In the age of social media, any advantage in grabbing a slice of your audience’s attention is worth seizing upon. Infographics cut straight to the point, simplify complex information, and can wow the reader in an instant. As with any piece of content, an infographic must be relevant, interesting, and meaningful; it should not rely solely on eye-catching artwork, nor should the content be overwhelming. An effective infographic elicits an instant reaction and entices people to want to learn more. What I enjoy most about an infographic is the creative flexibility it affords PR professionals. For example, the press release fits into a fairly standard format. When I’m given the task of writing one—and as a PR pro that happens often—I begin outlining the draft in my head, running through the checklist of elements. Infographics, on the other hand, help us to detour from our usual template and color outside the lines. This doesn’t mean we have to be artists or designers, though it does require us to revisit our early days and think visually. Although infographics have a place in almost any message, they are most useful when presenting:
• Survey results that may be cumbersome in a lengthy text format; • Statistical data that can lose the fleeting interest of a reader; • Comparison research that will have a more a dramatic effect with visuals; • Messages targeted to multilingual audiences (images are a universal language, right?); • Any other information that just isn’t sexy without graphical elements.
Numerous companies are taking advantage of infographics and including them in press releases. Here are three great examples: Hotels.com replaced lengthy lists of the top travel destinations by incorporating them into this graphic. (via) Has information about food waste ever been so appealing as it is with Emerson’s infographic about the life cycle of food waste using a garbage disposer? (via) And SC Johnson depicted the shift in consumer environment behaviors with a few simple images. (via) Meryl Serouya is a senior marketing and communications manager at MediaMath. This story first ran on PR Daily in February 2012.